Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February, released this massive, 3-minute trailer over the long weekend. So far, the sumptuous period piece looks very un-Herzog. It stars Nicole Kidman as Gertrude Bell, a sort of female, Lawrence of Arabia character, who traveled through the Middle East forming alliances and was influential in founding modern states like Iraq. It was a time when the British Empire bravely smushed varied ethnic groups into enforced borders that would violently unravel for the next 100 years.
It looks like a fairly traditional biopic, with nary a breakdancing soul or talking iguana to speak of, though maybe seeing Robert Pattinson (as T.E. Lawrence, ie., of Arabia) holding lion cubs and wearing Arab garb is surreal enough. James Franco also shows up halfway though, and I don’t think a person has ever so effectively made under-acting a trademark since Norm MacDonald.
There’s also a hint at the infamous bathing scene, which Nicole Kidman reportedly convinced Herzog to shoot and that he calls “a scene of pure eroticism, the first erotic scene I think I’ve ever shot in my life.”
I’m curious what Werner Herzog sees as “pure eroticism,” but also afraid. I picture him watching the dailies on a personal monitor, and solemnly telling Nicole Kidman’s children “I vill destroy ziss footage. You muzt nevah look at ziss.”
No release date is set yet.
A true story of the life of British explorer and adventurer, Gertrude Bell, QUEEN OF THE DESERT chronicles her journeys of love and loss in the Middle East during the early 20th century.
Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman (THE PAPERBOY, RABBIT HOLE, AUSTRALIA, THE HOURS) stars alongside Academy Award nominated James Franco (SPRING BREAKERS, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, 127 HOURS), Golden Globe & Emmy Award winner Damian Lewis (“Homeland”, KEANE, “Band of Brothers”), and Robert Pattinson (THE ROVER, MAPS TO THE STARS, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS) . A curious and adventurous young woman eager to explore the world outside of England, Gertrude Bell (Kidman) goes to the British embassy in Tehran where she quickly falls in love with a secretary of the embassy, Henry Cadogan (Franco). This sparks the beginning of a life-long adventure among the beautiful but misunderstood peoples and cultures of the Middle East. Along the way, her path intersects with archaeologist T.E. Lawrence (Pattinson) also known as Lawrence of Arabia, and Major Charles Doughty-Wylie (Lewis), the British Consul General in the Ottoman Empire.
The story of QUEEN OF THE DESERT is based on the true-life story of Gertrude Bell, who was a British political officer and archaeologist but ultimately a trailblazer on her terms. The story details the extraordinary adventures of Bell wrestling with the conflicts of love and tragedy, enemy and friend, and foreign and familiar as she sought to understand and unify people from different cultures. (Synopsis via Indiewire)